The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), a trade association of companies in the UK producing prescription medicines, has called for the UK to remain in the European Union (EU), saying that EU membership enhances patients’ access to innovative clinical research.
“The UK already has an enviable position as one of the ‘go-to’ destinations for clinical trials, but this legacy is now under threat,” says Mike Thompson, chief executive of the ABPI, who adds that being part of the EU allows UK patients access to medical innovation to fight cancer, HIV and rare genetic diseases.
Research conducted by the ABPI in collaboration with Thomson Reuters, and published in November 2015, found that the UK is the top country in Europe for phase I clinical trials, second for phase II clinical trials and third for phase III clinical trials. If the UK was to leave the EU, patients would lose out, the ABPI warns.
In addition, the new harmonised EU Clinical Trials Regulation is set to come into force at the end of 2018, which the ABPI says will remove a lot of the red tape associated with conducting clinical trials in Europe and will enable more research. “Brexit would see patients in the UK fall out of this new system, leaving EU patients ahead in accessing the latest innovative clinical research,” it says.
The ABPI warns that companies would deprioritise clinical trials in the UK in favour of the collaborative and stream-lined approach offered within Europe.
As well as hampering patient involvement in research, the association adds that exiting the EU would also harm the economic growth of the NHS, which benefits from investment made by the life sciences industry.